Tory presses Mulcair for SmartTrack funding commitment
Chris Fox and Joshua Freeman, CP24.com
Published Monday, March 16, 2015 7:56AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, March 16, 2015 4:14PM EDT
Mayor John Tory met with NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair at city hall this afternoon as he continued his efforts to solicit support for his $8 billion SmartTrack proposal among federal politicians.
Last month, Tory travelled to Ottawa to meet with Mulcair, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Minister of Transportation Lisa Raitt to discuss SmartTrack and a number of other infrastructure-related issues impacting Toronto.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting Monday, Tory said he had made the case that SmartTrack should be a priority project for federal funding.
“I made the case to him today as best I could that SmartTrack is something that we could get done sooner for the City of Toronto because we can get it done in seven years as opposed to other projects that are going to take 12 or 15 years,” Tory said. “I think the needed relief in the City of Toronto and in the GTA is urgent.”
Speaking alongside Tory, Mulcair said he is “of one mind” with Tory that Toronto is in need of a more stable and predictable partner in the federal government.
“Toronto is not only the most populous city in Canada but if you look at GDP, it represents one fifth of the gross domestic product of our entire country,” Mulcair said. “Issues like transit times, commuting times, the lack of availability of childcare aren’t only social issues, they’re becoming important economic issues and they’re becoming economic issues both for the city and therefore for the whole country.”
Mulcair said if his party is elected, he would direct one cent of the federal gas tax – the equivalent of about $420 million -- toward municipalities, with $90 million going to the GTA. He also said he would create a ministerial position for municipal affairs.
However he stopped short of saying he would give priority funding to Tory’s SmartTrack plan.
For his part, Tory lauded Mulcair for recognizing Toronto’s importance within Canada.
Despite the friendly meeting, Tory said he would not be endorsing any federal candidates in the upcoming election as his job is to build Toronto no matter who is in power in Ottawa.
“If you follow along with what Mr. Mulcair did have the courage to say, which is that a strong Toronto that’s growing and prospering and treating its citizens fairly is good for Canada. So I’m optimistic about the fact that all political party leaders I think will see that connection.”
The meetings came several months after Tory met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and at the time, Ward 2 Coun. Rob Ford accused Tory of “badgering” federal politicians; however the mayor defended the meetings as being “very worthwhile.”
“My job as I said at the time when I met him in Ottawa I believe is to meet with the leaders of all parties with people involved in public life who are interested in cities, who are interested in the city of Toronto and its well-being and certainly Mr. Mulcair is one of those,” Tory said.
Mulcair was in town following a NDP party rally at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Sunday.